NYCHS presents John Law -- The Name, The Legend, The Man.

The death house (above top left), the pews for press and official witnesses to observe executions (above bottom left), and death row at Sing Sing in the 1930s.

The above images are from the NYCHS excerpts presentaton of Guy Cheli's Images of America: Sing Sing Prison. © A link to access it is at bottom of each numbered page in this presentation.

Although John Law, in his own summary of his service at Sing Sing, recorded he "escorted witnesses and the press to 13 executions," we don't know for sure whether he meant

  • 13 executions including some taking place on the same day


  • 13 different dates he escorted observers to witness executions.

During the years 1933 and 1934, according to one count for example, a total of three dozen persons were executed in the Sing Sing electric chair (image right also from Guy Cheli's book).

The executions took place on 18 separate dates. On 9 of those dates, single electrocutions took place. On the other 9 dates, multuple executions took place -- on three occasions, two electrocutions; on the other six occasions, three electrocutions.

While we know of no record listing Warden Lawes' aide, John Law, as press and witness escort for any particular execution in 1933 and 1934, we do know of two capital cases in particular that generated considerable press interest around that period, including news coverage of the resulting executions.

One involved Anna Antonio, 28, executed on August 9, 1934, along with her convicted accomplices, Vicent Saetta, 22, and Sam Feracci, 42, for the murder of her husband, Salvatore Antonio, 30, an Albany railroad worker whom she at 16 married and whom the prosecution convinced a jury she hired Saetta and Feracci to kill to share in his insurance money. An excellent account of the case -- involving a stay Warden Lawes obtained for her and a temporary reprieve -- is given by author/detective Mark Gado in his Mrs. Antonio Must Die Tonight on the Court TV Crime Library web site.

The other murder case also involved insurance but the twists and turns in this tale seemed almost to have been written by a Runyun or an O’Henry. A group of conspirators whom the press later called the Murder Trust hatched a plot to take out insurance policies on a drunk named Michael Malloy and kill him to collect. But he proved nearly indestructable despite their repeated efforts to poison him, run him down and freeze him to death. They finally succeeded by stuffing into his mouth a rubber hose attached to a turned-on gas jet. But the scheme unraveled

Three convicted Murder Trust conspirators -- undertaker Frank Pasqua, speakeasy owner Anthony Marino, and hired killer Daniel Kreisberg -- were executed on June 7, 1934. Joseph Murphy, convicted as Kreisberg's partner in applying the lethal gas to Malloy, was executed July 5, 1934. Various versions of the bizarre Murder Trust story exist on the Internet. One with several newspaper source, date, page and column citations can be found at science teacher Steve Silverman's Useless Information web site ("Stuff You Never Needed to Know But Your Life Would Be Incomplete Without").

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